Entering his third season in Columbus, Ohio State backup tailback Miyan Williams has become somewhat of a forgotten man in the Buckeyes' running backs room – at least in the eyes of many Buckeye fans – thanks to the record-setting 2021 freshman season produced by starting tailback TreVeyon Henderson, along with the emergence of Evan Pryor in this season's spring camp.
Of course, running backs coach Tony Alford doesn't see it that way. He believes he's got a three-headed monster on his hands and while Henderson will rightfully see the bulk of the action, Alford knows the combo of Williams and Pryor can not only help to keep Henderson fresh, the trio's unique skill sets complement each other quite nicely.
While Pryor was the running back garnering the most attention this spring, the fact is Williams is a more-seasoned, proven commodity at this point and he was largely underappreciated for a 2021 campaign that saw him accomplish something pretty damn rare.
Averaging 7.2 yards a pop last season, Williams became just the fifth Buckeye ballcarrier since at least 1970 to average over seven yards per carry on at least 40 attempts.
The other four? Trey Sermon, J.K. Dobbins, Curtis Samuel and Carlos Hyde.
|RUNNING BACK||SEASON||RUSHING ATTEMPTS||RUSHING YARDS||YARDS PER CARRY|
Giving Henderson time to settle in as a true freshman, Ryan Day and Alford tabbed Williams to start the season opener and the 5-foot-8, 225-pounder out of Cincinnati Winton Woods responded with a career-high 125 rushing yards on nine attempts. His biggest play of the night came via a 71-yard touchdown scamper in which he was supposed to take a handoff and cut left but instead went right and put Ohio State on the board.
A week later, in a 35-28 loss to Oregon, Williams paced Ohio State in rushing with 77 yards on 5.5 per try. He also caught three passes for another 38 yards, showcasing a versatility that shouldn't be dismissed. His 6.8 yards per touch against the Ducks bettered Henderson's 66 yards on 13 touches, but the TreVeyon Show was just about to get started.
Making his first career start against Tulsa the following Saturday, Henderson went bonkers posting 270 rushing yards – the most ever by an Ohio State freshman – in a 41-20 win.
For his part, Williams didn't record a snap against Tulsa and received a modest nine carries the following week versus Akron before two more DNPs against Rutgers and Maryland.
The specific injury/reason for his lack of participation was never officially disclosed, but he returned for the Indiana game and turned out to be much-needed after Henderson took a head shot early in the contest. Needing to give Henderson a blow, Williams carried it eight times for 60 yards, good for 7.5 yards a pop, with a touchdown to give Ohio State an early 7-0 lead.
Despite the DNPs and spot carries in two other games to that point, Williams averaged 7.9 yards per carry, proving his mettle as the best option to spell Henderson.
With Henderson going off against Penn State (159 yards, TD) and Nebraska (136 yards) over the next two weeks, Williams logged just five touches. In a 59-31 win over Purdue the following week, however, Williams rushed for 117 yards on 8.4 per carry.
The final three games of the season featured more limited touches (17 for 94 yards), bringing his season totals to 508 rushing yards on 7.2 per carry and 74 receiving yards on 8.2 per catch.
Heading into the 2022 season, Williams – ranked as the No. 45 running back and No. 627 overall prospect in 247Sports’ 2020 class composite – must now prove he's still worthy of the No. 2 tailback spot. To do that, he'll need to fend off Pryor, the No. 6 running back and No. 83 overall prospect in 247Sports’ 2021 composite.
Having “a pair and a spare” at running back is critical to Ohio State's national championship hopes, especially after Henderson missed time during a handful of games last season, though he never missed a full contest.
For Williams, the goal will be to not only be the first option behind Henderson but to bring between-the-tackles toughness augmented by that sneaky versatility in the passing game.
Miyan's ability to ensure limited drop-off when Henderson is off the field will likely be more important this fall than most fans realize on the surface.